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Cindy Boggs Cindy Boggs

Cindy Boggs is an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness professional, corporate wellness presenter and author of the award winning book, CindySays … "You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World." Her web site is

It feels like such a cruel trick that we lose muscle and gain weight as we grow older considering how difficult it can be to remain active with each passing year. Young people will scoff at old people's excuses until that fateful day when they, too, become … old. Even when willing to exercise, the fact is bodies hurt a little more and heal a lot slower so it requires a steadfast commitment and a wise training plan.

Muscle Facts

Losing muscle mass as we age is called sarcopenia. It actually begins much earlier, but becomes more perceptible after age 65. This loss causes bodies to become weak and can limit a person's independence because balance decreases, walking speed slows and the risk of falls and injury increases.

They Will Shrivel Up and Die

Inactivity is a death sentence for our muscles at any age but even more so for older adults. And here's the double whammy — when muscle mass diminishes, so does our resting metabolic rate — the pace at which our bodies burn calories at rest. Consequently, we burn fewer and fewer calories resulting in increased fat tissue.

Preventing Muscle Loss

The good news is that we can gain muscle mass at any age. A strength training regimen two to three times per week will help regain muscle and support joint and bone integrity. In fact, studies compared people ages 20 to 30 to those between 70 and 80 years old and found that muscle building exercise resulted in very similar results.

Diet Is Essential

In order to support this type of muscle-building exercise program, a good nutrition plan is a must — one that is high in lean protein, such as lean beef and pork, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese) and eggs. Plant-based protein choices include various types of beans, chickpeas and soy nuts as well as whole grains such as barley, quinoa and cracked wheat. Consuming protein with each meal is the best way to synthesize the protein support muscle-building throughout the day.

Don't Give Up

While cardiovascular exercise is essential and must always be included in some form, don't forget to make strength training your goal at least two days a week in order to maintain a strong and lean physique.